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What Did You/He Ask For? (A Christmas Message) | A Very Special Day (An Easter Message) | Power | Ready, Willing and Able
Together | Power in Combining Our Resources/Lives | By the Will of God | What Is That In Your Hand? | Where Did You Get That? | Not in Vain
Physical and Spiritual | Spend and Be Spent | Give Yourself Fully | Daily Choices | Rainbow | Everything in Its Place
Examine Your Heart | Philippians Needed to Understand/Understood | Offering from a Willing Heart | 347 Boxes of Kleenex
Unworthy | Giving Anyway | A note to our visitors | Other Ideas
Not everyone gives gifts at Christmas time, but for those of you who do, let me ask: What did you ask for for Christmas?
At my work place, we drew names to match up Secret Pals during the month of December and gave each other little gifts occasionally. The first thing we did was each fill out a questionnaire about ourselves - favorite color, favorite snack foods, hobbies, favorite sports teams, T-shirt size, things we collect. Then we drew names. I was assigned to buy for "Laura." I'm not big on "fruity scents" or "diet Mt. Dew," and I don't wear size double-X. But I was buying for her, so Sweetie - who does all my shopping - was compelled even to buy an "Alabama" T-shirt, because that's what Laura wanted.
Here's where the story becomes a sermon illustration: I got this little yo-yo. But I barely know how to work a yo-yo, and I didn't ask for one! Jesus said,
7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! 12 "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
As Christians, it's no secret who our "pals" are: Everyone. And it's no secret what they want.
1) Our friends and neighbors and even (especially) our enemies want love and peace and hope, so what we give them is Jesus Christ. Our Father who is in heaven has given us the best gift of all, sending Jesus even before we knew to ask! We collect funds from the church at this time to help share the gift of Jesus through preaching both here and abroad.
2) Our brethren - whom God chose in Jesus Christ - only want the basics: Food and clothing. As a congregation, we have sent money for medical expenses to Mexico and New York and have given money to help the needy among us. And Tim told us Wednesday night about our brothers and sisters who are starving - literally to death. It's excellent that we were able to send $5,000 to Zimbabwe to provide food. Let's continue giving generously. The help we gave was not the first time that our "pals" have made a request, and it's not the last. There are still other preachers needing support and help with medical expenses. So let's give from what God has given us.
Lord's Supper: What Did He Ask For?
Jesus didn't give us a Christmas list; He gave us a dying request. The night before He was crucified, He instituted the Lord's Supper and ...He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying,
"This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19)
What a simple request. What a simple remembrance. The bread is His body; the juice is "the new covenant in [His] blood. (v. 20) We "do this" every week, the same as the early disciples.
The religious observance of Jesus' birthday is simply a "yo-yo." It's not what Jesus asked for. The winter solstice is the reason for the season, and some people, in their human reasoning, attached religious significance to it. In the eyes of some, I suppose the "Christianized" celebration was a fitting replacement for pagan practices.
But Jesus is the "reason" for LIFE!
Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Today, as every Sunday, we offer worship to Jesus that He requested. May we remember His death, in His way, by doing this. And may we examine ourselves and purify our hearts before Him and take this "Lord's Supper" in a worthy manner.
Why every Sunday is a VERY special day. On the first day of the week...
• The Lord rose from the dead (John 21:1) and performed signs (John 21:19; Luke 24:13-35).
• The first gospel sermon was preached and the church began (Acts 2:1, 41-42).
• The disciples put their money into a common treasury (1 Cor. 16:1-2).
• The disciples assembled to break bread to remember and proclaim the Lord's death (Acts 20:7; cf. 1 Cor. 11:23ff).
A Christian can and should be charitable any day of the week, but the only command we have regarding a day of the week to take up a collection specifies Sunday. So this is a special time when we pool our resources to meet our common goals of supporting the preaching of the gospel, building each other up through teaching the Word, and helping needy Christians.
Lord's Supper: A Very Special Day
Why this is NO special day (even though it’s “Easter”).
If the church were to celebrate annual holidays, I can think of two which might make the list:
1) The anniversary of the Lord’s death and resurrection, and 2) the anniversary of the beginning of the church.
Now, Jesus was crucified and resurrected during “the days of unleavened bread.”
Luke 22:1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover.
Mark 14:12 on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb,
…then the “days of unleavened bread” lasted another seven days. (Lev. 23:4-8)
About 6 weeks later was the feast of Pentecost on which the Holy Spirit was poured out, the gospel was first preached, and the church began.
So what? So the example we have of the disciples meeting to break bread mentions both those Jewish holidays.
Acts 20:6 We sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. 7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them….
Acts 20:16 (Paul) was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.
Notice that Paul waited seven days, even though he was in a hurry.
So the day in Troas was NOT “Passover”, was NOT “Easter”, and was NOT the day the church began. It was just an “ordinary” Sunday. But no Sunday is "ordinary," and today we’ve gathered for a very important purpose… just as we do every first day of the week.
Wow. Let's thank God for the power of this simple act, giving.
Lord's Supper: The blood of Jesus is Powerful! - so powerful that it ...
But this cleansing does not happen automatically.
Therefore, the cleansing must happen only when we meet certain conditions set forth by God. (As with the blood of the Passover lamb, the blood must be "applied.")
After baptism, His blood continues to cleanse us as we meet further conditions:
We celebrate His promise of cleansing and this spiritual fellowship with our Lord in the Lord's Supper.
- Each of us is to put something aside. (1 Corinthians 16:1)
- We should have purposed in our hearts (2 Corinthians 9:7)
- The highest example is to first give ourselves to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:5)
- Have you ever argued over who would get the privilege of paying for a meal at a restaurant? The Macedonians were "begging earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints" (2 Corinthians 8:4)
- God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
- Do we see the need for preacher support? ... for benevolence?
- As each has prospered (1 Corinthians 16:2)
- The Macedonians gave "beyond their means" (2 Corinthians 8:3; Think of the widow and her two mites.)
- Have we not kept back enough abundance and luxury for ourselves yet?
- Do we not see how blessed we are in comparison with
1) those who depend on the brethren for their support so they can preach full time, and
2) those who are in need?
Lord's Supper: Jesus Was Ready, Willing and Able to Go to the Cross.
Before the foundation of the world,
- The Father loved the Son (John 17:24),
- God chose us in the Beloved Son (Ephesians 1:4), and
- The kingdom was prepared (Matthew 25:34)
- Jesus - who shed his "precious blood. like that of lamb without spot or blemish" - was foreknown before the foundation of the world, and was "slain from the foundation of the world." (Revelation 13:8, NKJV)
- It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; . 7 Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'" (Hebrews 10:4-7)
[Jesus said,] "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. . 27 "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." 30 Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." (John 12:23-32)
- Able to die for others, because He lived sinlessly. (Hebrews 4:15) He did not have to pay any penalty for Himself.
- "Able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25)
We can do more as a group than we can individually. Take as evidence...
- Our meeting place
- Our class materials
- Our preacher support
- Our benevolent offerings
So, let's give generously and see what we can do together.
Lord's Supper: There is Power in Combining Our Lives
We are described (in Romans, Ephesians, and 1 Corinthians) as the "body of Christ." We are NOT a "Lego-Man," assembled only on Sunday, disconnecting, interchangeable, insignificant, lifeless. Rather, we are a living, organic body, with Christ as our head and us as members. We share life, energy, purpose, and mutual activity, support and edification.
This is at the core of why...
- Paul tried to join himself to the disciples in Jerusalem , even though that was a very uncomfortable situation
- Each of us needs to be an active and vibrant member of the body, and
- Our visitors - while very welcome and welcome to take the Lord's Supper - are encouraged to progress to the next level and become members of this congregation.
This communion symbolizes the life we share as a body, and, in a sense, this Lord's Supper is one way in which we "feed" the body:
1 Corinthians 10:16-17 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
So, let's take this Lord's Supper and commune with Christ and draw strength from each other.
The churches of Macedonia, 3 . gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints-- 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. (2 Cor. 8:5)
We need to remember that our giving is "by the will of God." We give ourselves first to the Lord and then to His people. As needs are identified, we are asked to give. Do we shrink back, or do we beg earnestly for the favor of taking part in this work? Which, do you think, is God's will concerning your giving?
Lord's Supper: By the Will of God
It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God , as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'" (Hebrews 10:4-6)
Jesus taught people how to live and please God, performed miracles by God's help, in short, "went about doing good." (Acts 10:38 ) But we see the core purpose of His mission toward the end of His (earthly) ministry "w hen the days drew near for him to be taken up, (and) He set his face to go to Jerusalem ." He said three times things such as, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem . And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day."
Jesus was born to die . for us, according to the will of God.
(Continuing back in Hebrews) 6 . 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God .. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
For those of you who have been buried with Christ through baptism into death, please meditate on the sacrifices that Jesus made in order to do God's will and to make possible the taking away of our sins.
If you have haven't died with Christ in baptism, please meditate about your soul's condition and the will of God in your life while we take the Lord's Supper.
In one of the strongest passages about a person's dual nature - physical and spiritual - the apostle Paul says,
"We do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18)
He reminds us to walk by faith rather than by sight and to always make it our aim to please God, "for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil." (2 Cor. 5:10) Notice, a spiritual judgment based on physical behavior.
Focusing on "unseen" things will affect how we look at others: "From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh." (v. 16) and how we teach others (vv. 11, 18-20), and I would submit that it affects how we spend our time and even our money.We have physical blessings which we share with others, for the preaching and teaching of the gospel and for helping needy Christians. We identify the needs, from preacher support to feeding hungry Christians in Zimbabwe , and we give . money. But what we do in this physical act echoes in the heavens. It gives great encouragement to the souls of the people who receive it - they see that we share a common faith and love them in Christ and will not abandon them! - and God notices and judges according to what we have "purposed in [our] hearts." (2 Cor. 9:7)
Lord's Supper: Physical and Spiritual
In the Lord's Supper, we take simple, physical items - crackers and juice - and we eat and drink. The items remind us of what happened in this physical world - that Jesus was crucified and died on the cross. But we remember more than that! The bread, representing Christ's body, is unleavened, as was the bread used during Passover, and symbolizes the purity of Christ. (Exodus 12:8; 1 Cor. 5:6-8) Perhaps the unfermented juice, representing His blood, also symbolizes His purity. We meditate on the fact that, through that physical suffering, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and satisfied the Creator of the universe by one sacrifice for sin, for all people, for all time.So, what He did on the cross echoed in the heavens, and what we do in this physical act echoes in the heavens, as well! It unites us in purpose and strengthens the fellowship we have with each other and with Jesus Christ. And while some may "eat and drink condemnation" to themselves (1 Cor. 11:27 -34), we remember the Lord's body and blood and we take those elements in, as a reminder of our responsibility to become like Him.
May God bless each of us as we eat and drink.
My grandmother's eulogy described her, in part, as "frugal with herself, generous with others." What about us?
Our fellow Christians are worth ALL THAT WE HAVE!
All who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. Acts 2:44-45 (Also Acts 4:34 -35)
The gospel is worth ALL THAT WE HAVE!
Remember the merchant? "The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46
The gospel is worth all that we have, so, the spread of that gospel is worth ALL THAT WE HAVE! What will you give to help it spread?
There are men who, like Paul, say, "As much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel." (Romans 1:15)
I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls. (2 Corinthians 12:15)
When we support a preacher to buy medicine or put food on his table or buy a computer so he can print tracts to distribute, we have "fellowship in the gospel." (Philippians 1:5)
As we take up a collection (only expected from the members, not the visitors), we should ask ourselves, "Just how beautiful ARE the feet of those who preach the gospel?" (Romans 10:15)
And know that, when we sell possessions - or, at the very least, avoid obtaining certain possessions, which is what we've come to, in our rich culture - we will be able to think of ourselves "as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." ( 2 Corinthians 6:10)
Lord's Supper: Spend and Be Spent
Think about that phrase, "I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls" (2 Corinthians 12:15) and apply it to what Jesus did.
In His Life:
"Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." (Matthew 8:20)
In His Death:
He left the Father, with all His riches. Came down from heaven and gave His life-blood to make the vilest sinner clean. He gave His life-blood for even me. (What a Savior, v. 2 and Refrain)
Out of the ivory palaces, into a world of woe, only His great eternal love made my Savior go. (Ivory Palaces, Refrain)
You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
He was spent.
He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12
For 19 years, now, I've received an annual phone call from Univ. of TX at Austin asking for money.
Why UT can never get any money from me:
Even though, I...
- moved there from AR,
- spent 2 ½ years there,
- worked on campus,
- attended classes 5 days/wk, and
- graduated with a Master's Degree,
I did NOT...
- share many of my teachers' or fellow students' values and beliefs
- see myself as a Longhorn
- think they were giving me an identity (rather, simply a career), so I did NOT
- commit myself to their Ph.D. program.
In other words, I did not give myself fully to them.
As we take up this collection, ask yourself whether you have, as the example of the Galatians, "first [given yourself] to the Lord, and then to [His people]." (2 Cor. 8:5)If you feel pestered when this collection comes around, maybe it's because you haven't fully committed. God wants you, to make a whole-hearted commitment, not to this treasury or even to the work of this church, but rather to Him.
Lord's Supper: Give Yourself Fully
Perhaps I would've given myself fully to UT Austin (University of Texas at Austin) if they had done more for me.
Even though they waived my out-of-state tuition (huge in TX!), and conferred on me a degree, they did not sacrifice for me.
- Did not seek me out (even with letters).
- Did not help me move.
- Did not change me. (I resisted the character influences.)
- Give me life (rather, knowledge and skills).
- And they did not know me.
I don't even know what organization they have. I never met their President. (Chancellor? I don't even know, and they may have changed since I left.)
Jesus, on the other hand,
- Left glory/Came here
- Lived sinlessly
- Allowed Himself to be tortured
- Gave His life blood
- Made Himself known to us
- Called each of us through the gospel, and
- Knows the number of hairs on our heads and the thoughts of our hearts before they leave out lips.
Hopefully that's enough to motivate you to give yourself fully to Him, seeing that He gave Himself fully for us.
As we come to this collection, I wonder how it is that we have money to spare, to give today.
Ideas of the world for this offering include the "skip-a-meal" fund-raiser method, which is suggested on "EHow.com" for generating a building fund. Similarly, the Mormon church promotes the (man-made) idea of a "fast offering" which they define as
"A donation given by members to benefit the needy. Funds collected by branches and wards, which are not needed by them, are sent into the general Church fund. The contribution generally consists of money saved by fasting for two consecutive meals. " - http://www.mormon.org/mormonorg/eng/basic-beliefs/the-commandments/live-the-law-of-tithing#x
I'm not suggesting that these methods are found in the Bible, but I want us to notice how their long-term priorities translate into daily choices. A simple example - that I can support! - comes from a housekeeper who was invited by her co-workers to go shopping. She declined, explaining, "I need my water and my lights and a place to stay." Her monthly priorities have translated into daily choices.
We have long-term priorities , as did Christians in the first century. They were taught, "On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside , storing up as he may prosper.." (1 Cor. 16:2) That will involve some daily choices. 2 Cor. 9:6-7 says, "He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart .."
In order for us to enjoy bountiful reaping, our giving requires some planning. I'm not telling you how to save your money, but I hope we don't give simply whatever happens to be in our pocket on Sunday after a big spending spree Saturday night. God expects more than left-overs. Our weekly priorities in giving - which include the monthly priorities of "water and lights and a place to stay" for preachers and needy brethren (James 2:15), as well as the longer-term needs for edifying the saints and spreading the gospel - translate into daily choices.May we choose well, and give as we have purposed in our hearts.
Lord's Supper: Daily ChoicesFrom eternity the plan was made, and it was "written in the volume of the Book: I have come to do Your will, O God." (Hebrews 10:7) Jesus' eternal priorities translated into daily choices.
At 12 years old, He said, "I must be about My Father's business." (Luke 3:42, 49)
After His baptism, He made daily choices while preparing to be tempted in the wilderness. (Matthew 4)
He made daily choices throughout His earthly ministry. (Luke 19:47 ; 22:53 )
He made daily choices when He set His face to go to Jerusalem , knowing in perfect detail the suffering that was awaiting Him. (Luke 9:51-53; Matthew 16:21)
His long-term goal kept Him going. "For the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb. 12:2)
We have a long-term goal of being welcomed into the very presence of God. We need endurance (Hebrews 10:36) for making our daily choices.
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "TODAY," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.. (Hebrews 3:12-14)
Let's consider Jesus' daily choices - and ours! - as we become "partakers of Christ" in the Lord's Supper at this time.
Have you ever spent time – maybe a lot of time – on a big project, say, at work, or around the house, only to get to the end and discover you can't finish it the way it was started or it simply fails. You have to scrap everything you've done. Your time and effort were wasted. “Vanity of vanity. All is vanity.”
The Bible speaks about several vain (“empty,” “pointless”) things:- The plots and schemes of Jesus' enemies. Psalm 2; Acts 4:25 “Why do the Gentiles rage, and the people plot in vain?”
- The worship of idolaters. Acts 14:15 “We bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”
- The worship of people whose hearts are not sincere. Matt 15:9; Mark 7:7 “In vain do they worship Me….”
We want our actions to count; we want our worship to count. When it comes to giving, we want our money to count. (Maybe the only thing worse than wasting our time and effort is throwing away our money!) This church is very careful to use the money in the treasury in ways that, in the first place, fit with the New Testament pattern, and secondly, in ways that it will do the most good. Preaching (our local preacher, gospel meetings, preaching trips); edification (this building; class materials; new classroom construction); and benevolence (needy Christians here locally; one-time needs in NY, South Africa, Zimbabwe)
So, please know that your money will not be spent in vain. And now, may our hearts be sincere, may we give as we have been prospered, and may we keep our vows, giving as we have purposed in our hearts so that our giving will not be in vain.
Lord's Supper: Not in Vain
Another vain thing: All our effort and sacrifices to bring others to Christ if they quit or leave the path (Gal. 3:4; 4:11; Phil. 2:6; 1 Thess. 3:5).
But it’s worse than that. Not only are our time and effort wasted, God’s grace is given in vain toward people who quit.
1 Corinthians 15:1 I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
Imagine if Christ had died, but nobody cared and no one ever obeyed the gospel. His leaving heaven would’ve been pointless. His virgin birth meaningless. His disadvantaged life only so much discomfort. His being ridiculed and tortured and even His death would’ve been for nothing. It would’ve all been in vain.
That’s about the same as when people start out following Christ, but turn back. Paul didn’t turn back!
1 Corinthians 15:10 By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
The Lord’s Supper is a time for self-examination. (1 Cor. 11:28; 2 Cor. 13:5) If you haven’t obeyed the gospel, do so today. If you have, may you strengthen your commitment to Christ so that His grace – His death! – may not be in vain in you.
The rainbow is an everlasting symbol to remind us that God keeps His promises. Here are some promises He has made:
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. -- Matthew 6:31-33
6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written:
“He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” -- 2 Corinthians 9:6-9
Lord's Supper: Rainbow
The Bible does not refer to the Lord's Supper as a "sign." But consider this comparison:
The rainbow is God's sign, reminding us of the terrible price of sin and a lasting covenant between God and the earth, with a promise to never bring another world-wide flood.
The Lord's Supper reminds us of the terrible price of sin, and of the new and "everlasting" (Heb. 13:20) covenant made between God and believers who have been baptized into Christ, with a promise to never require another payment for sin.
God once asked Moses, "What is that in your hand?" (Ex. 4:2) The answer in that case was "a staff."
With a shepherd's stick, Moses and Aaron did great things: When Pharaoh asked them to prove themselves by working a miracle, they changed a staff into a serpent - which swallowed up the serpents of the Egyptian magicians - and back to a staff again. (Ex. 7) They turned the waters of Egypt to blood. (Ex. 7) They summoned the plagues of frogs and gnats (Ex. 8) and of hail (Ex. 9) and locusts. (Ex. 10) And as if turning the Nile River to blood weren't enough, Moses parted the Red Sea with that staff! (Ex. 14) When the Israelites grumbled and tested the Lord saying, "Is the Lord among us, or not?" Moses struck a boulder in the Arabian desert and water gushed out to give life to millions of people and their livestock. (Ex. 17) In that same chapter, Moses also held that staff high to give Israel military victory over Amalek.
Exodus 4:20, however, points to the power behind all those signs and wonders. When Moses was returning to the Egypt from his self-imposed exile, he "took the staff of God in his hand."
God can take over the small things in our hands and with them do great things. As we're taking this collection, I ask you, "What is that in your hand?" Dedicate it to God willingly and give it today cheerfully. We will see poor Christians' hunger satisfied, a preacher purchase a car so he can keep preaching and establishing and strengthening churches in the African boondocks, preachers pay medical bills for themselves and their wives, and we will pay off our debt on this building - which is a wonderful tool for our assembling and teaching - and go on to do much more!
Lord's Supper: What Is That In Your Hand?
As we now take the Lord's Supper, I ask again, "What is that in your hand?" To be clear, in your hand will simply be unleavened bread and grape juice ("the fruit of the vine"). But consider their significance:
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? ... 20 I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? - I Cor. 10:14-22 (ESV)
Those simple things, dedicated to God and taken reverently, accomplish such greatness. They remind us of our Savior and of His ultimate sacrifice of His body and blood. They remind us of who we claim to be, His followers. They call us to holiness, to separation from worldly and sinful things. The call us to repentance and to higher and purer service.
When you pick up the bread and pick up the juice, know that you are not worthy to do so, any more than Moses was worthy to pick up the staff of God. But if we remain humble as Moses did, and allow God to use us in His service, God will do great things through the small things in your hand.
If you’re about to put something in the collection plate, ask yourself, “Where did I get this?”
The Israelites at Mount Sinai - at least everyone whose “spirit was stirred, whose spirit was willing” - donated very generously for the “for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments”: precious metals, fancy threads and cloth, etc., etc. (Exodus 35) Did you ever ask yourself, “Where did they get those things”? The Israelites had been slaves for at least 80 years serving with harsh manual labor. (Exodus 1 — 4; Acts 7:29, 30)
Before Moses even went to fetch the Israelites from Egypt, God promised,
Exodus 3:21 I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed. 22 But every woman shall ask of her neighbor … articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”
Then, right before the 10th plague was unleashed, God gave those very instructions to both men and women (Exodus 11:2-3), and the Israelites did as instructed. (Exodus 12:35-36) Egypt had reached the pinnacle of societal development, in some ways surpassing even our modern culture, and was likely the richest nation on the planet. The Israelites plundered them!
So there’s a sense in which God had been blessing the Egyptians in order to give all that stuff to the Israelites a couple of generations later! Then, in a rare show of selflessness and godliness, the Israelites, rather than being prideful and covetous and trying to hoard those things, gave them “back” to the Lord.
We Americans are on top of the world, materially speaking. Oh, and we’ve worked hard, we’ve scratched and clawed and invented and made, right? No, there’s a very real sense in which we have been given everything we have. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17). And if we have prioritized God’s kingdom and His righteousness, then these things have been “added to” us. (Matthew 6:33)
Now we can answer “where we got this,” so next we ask, “How stirred is my spirit? How willingly do I give for the Lord’s service?”
Lord's Supper: Where Did You Get That?
When we read the book of Hebrews - or perhaps if we can simply rightly thinks about the damage that human sin causes to a human soul - we can know that
4 It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
5 Therefore, when [Jesus] came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come … To do Your will, O God.’”
… 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:4-10)
The body of Jesus was nothing amazing to look at (Isaiah 53:2, “He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.”), but it was perfectly arranged, prepared, for God to dwell in human flesh. (John 1:14)
Thankfully, Jesus did not cling to that body (as we often do) or try to unduly prolong its life. He did not even try to protect it from all harm. Rather, He used His body as it was intended to be, a tool to accomplish God’s will. When He gave His body to be tortured and abused and torn and killed, He was very pointedly using it for God’s will:
Colossians 1:21 You, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel….
Where did you get your body? As God asked Moses when Moses said, “I am slow of speech and slow of tongue,” “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11) The Lord has made each of our bodies and He knows what we can do with them (which means He also recognizes when we, like Moses, try to make excuses).
We have answered where we got this body, so now let’s ask ourselves, “Am I using the body God has given me to do His will?” His purpose - His will, His reason - for giving us a body is to temporarily house our spirits while we undergo a testing of our spirit. (Deuteronomy 8:2; 13:3; 1 Chronicles 29:17; Psalm 7:9; Proverbs 17:3; Ecclesiastes 3:18; Jeremiah 11:20; 12:3; 17:10; 20:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:4)
1 Corinthians 6:19 (NKJV) Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
When we assemble, we sing and preach and pray, according to the New Testament pattern. We also have New Testament teaching and examples, though, showing that we can do these activities - sing and preach and pray - at home, too. In a similar way, the New Testament shows that we can - and should! - be using our resources, including spending our money, for preaching and building up the saints, and helping any needy, as we have opportunity. I would even say that that's basic Christianity!
This is now a time - the first day of the week - when we take up a collection. We pool our resources and share in some of the work God has given the church. That's fellowship, joint participation, sharing, "togetherness."
Our collection mirrors what we do at home - The collected monies support preaching, building up the saints, and meeting people's basic, physical needs. As I understand, the only difference is that our collective funds have a more focused and restricted use, helping needy Christians.
I'm so thankful for the opportunity to do this together. I'm thankful that God has blessed us so abundantly, not only with our amazing physical riches, but especially with the unity with other saints who are rich in faith and who share a priority for using our money to further God's kingdom. I'm thankful for this time and for this work together.
Lord's Supper: Together
From the beginning of the church, about 6 weeks after Jesus was raised from the dead, Jesus' followers "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." Acts 2:42 In fact, for a time, they "continued daily with one accord in the temple" (NKJV, which has a different connotation than in the ESV, "attending the temple together") and they ate their meals from house to house. (v. 46)
On the Lord's day, we enjoy a special, a spiritual, breaking of bread. As Jesus instituted His Supper, He said, "I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29) We commune with the Lord every time we break this bread and drink this juice. We are together with the Lord in this activity. Besides that, we are together with each other. And so this is one aspect of our worship that we cannot do alone.
1 Cor 11-14 is all about "together activities." "When you come together" ... as a church... to eat... referring to the Lord's Supper 11:17,18,20,33,34, (also 14:23,26).
The same idea is in Acts 20:7 "On the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread" (Note, though, that "the disciples" are not mentioned, and so the pronouns are less clear, in the ESV.)
We who believe in the saving power of death of the Lord... are in this together. We who have been buried with Him through baptism into His death... We who examine ourselves now and ask God to show us the error of our ways... we who confess our sins to the Lord and to each other ... We who repent of our sins and pray for forgiveness. We who share in the hope of His resurrection are in this together.
This is fellowship, communion, with each other and with the Lord, as in 1 John 1:3-4, "that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full."
(STAND TO ONE SIDE)
The work of each individual Christian includes:
- Providing for my family (1 Tim. 5:8), visiting the lonely, the needy, and the down-trodden (Matt. 25:35-36; James 1:26-27), and
- Doing good to all men (Gal. 6:10).
(STAND TO THE OTHER SIDE)
The work of the church includes:
In other words, the work of the church is building up each other (1 Cor. 14:26) through assembling (Heb. 10:24-25) and greeting one another (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26), and carrying out the above activities.
- Worshipping God, which includes the Lord's Supper (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 11:18, 20, 33), prayers (Acts 2:42; 1 Tim. 2:8) and singing (1 Pet. 2:9; Heb. 2:12)
- Preaching & Teaching (Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7; 1 Tim. 3:15) which includes the use of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19), and
- Meeting each other's (and all other Christians') physical needs (Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:34-35; Acts 6:1; etc.)
(STAND TO ONE SIDE)
Therefore, the use of my personal funds is for:
- Providing for my family and
- Doing every possible good work (clinics & hospitals, schools & colleges, gymnasiums & coliseums, nursing homes & orphanages, feeding the poor, trying to effect political changes, etc.)
(STAND TO THE OTHER SIDE)
While the use of the treasury is for:
Lord's Supper: Everything in Its Place
- Building up each other (1 Cor. 14:26) through assembling, etc.
- Preaching & Teaching by preachers and elders (Phil. 4:15; 1 Cor. 9:14; 1 Tim. 5:17), and
- Meeting each other's (and all other Christians') physical needs, including for “widows indeed” (Acts 4:34-35; Acts 11:29-30; 1 Cor. 16:1-3; 1 Tim. 5:9; etc.)
Rom 14:17 The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
That serves as a general principle, teaching us that the kingdom of God is primarily a spiritual concern. This principle should guide our activities and help us keep everything in its place. Unfortunately, many churches have lost sight of the spiritual and have begun to focus on the physical, the carnal.
The church in Corinth had the same problem in the days of the apostle Paul. For example, in correcting them regarding their abuses of the Lord’s Supper, he asks,
1 Corinthians 11:22 Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God....
Then he commands,
:33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home,
His instructions are consistent with the pattern from Acts 2:
:42 [The first Christians] devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. ... 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
They did “church things at church” and “home things at home.”
We show respect to the Lord and to His church by keeping everything in its place. THIS, the Lord’s Supper, is the time for spiritual activity, a spiritual eating, a ritual meal. We take these elements together to remind us of our Lord's sacrifice ... to proclaim His death... to prompt us to examine ourselves. As such, it becomes a great motivator to strive toward more focused and purer spiritual service.
Proverbs 6:16, 18 One of the abominations the Lord hates is “A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil”. There was a brother in Christ in TX who was an alcoholic. He would sit in church planning to visit the bars as soon as church was out. And he came to our pot lucks and ate with us (before we were aware of his lack of repentance)!
But Jesus “sat down with the twelve” (Matthew 26:20) “as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.” 19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one, “Is it I?” And another said, “Is it I?” (Mark 14:18-19) But Judas had already gone “to the chief priests to betray Him to them (Mark 14:10) and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” (Matthew 26:15) And “they were glad” (Mark 14:11) and “counted out to him 30 pieces of silver. 16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him." (Matthew 26:15-16)
1 Corinthians 11:26 “as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”
What is our motivation for taking this supper? Taking it doesn't forgive us. (The conditions for forgiving a Christian are repentance and confession of the sin to God - Acts 8; 1 John 1). Examine yourself - your heart - and accept the Lord's chastening. Then discern His body and proclaim His death. This will strengthen us and help us avoid being condemned with the world.
Lord's Supper: Examine Your Heart
Proverbs 17:3 “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests the hearts.” If you want to remove the unwanted elements from your heart, give it to the Lord. He already sees it all!
Ps. 101:1 (by David) “To You, O Lord, I will sing praises. 2 I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. 3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. 4 A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness.
Luke 19:6 Zacchaeus climbed a tree just to see Jesus. When Jesus said to him, “Today I must stay at your house,” he “made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. … 8 Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor.”
Oh, when will He come to me?!The Lord is now coming to your house and to mine. We’ll have to make some sacrifices in order to treat Him properly, and He’s expecting to be received with joy.
Psalm 7:9 “Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, But establish the just; For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds."
2 Corinthians 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
The relief on people's faces when a financial need is met (Jenny in Honduras, cry and hug for $30 for long-needed dental work)-- priceless!
The joy upon learning the gospel --
The brightened expressions from being encouraged and from learning and applying God's word -- priceless!
The thanksgiving to God --
Paul "thanked God upon every remembrance of (them) always in every prayer of (his)
making request for (them) all for (their) fellowship in the Gospel" (Phil 1:3-5)
-- the recipients of the relief money to Jerusalem longed for and prayed for the ones
who sent money:
2 Corinthians 9:11-15 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your
confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
To know that WE had a small part in that -- No wonder the Philippians were the first to support Paul in his preaching. (Phil 4:15) And no wonder the poor Christians around Philippi"implored with much urgency" to let them help in the giving! (2 Cor 8:4) Let's have the same good spirit!
Lord's Supper: What the Philippians Needed to Understand
Philippians 2:6-11 (Jesus Christ), being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be
equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and
coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself
and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also
has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name
of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under
the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God
Eternal God… form of man… suffering servant… humble, obedient… exalted as king… to worship and obey. The Philippians already knew that — everyone who obeys the gospel knows that! — but they needed to …
2:5 Let this mind be in (them) which was also in Christ Jesus,
(They needed to...)
2:4 look out not only for (their) own interests, but also for the interests of
And they needed to get along and love each other - there were at least two ladies not getting
along (Euodia and Syntyche, 4:2-3...)
2:2-3 being like-minded, having the same love, being
of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in
lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
So we pause now to remember what Jesus did for us, and how that ought to change us
In 1 Chronicles 29:3, we read that King David gave an amazing amount for the temple, even from his personal, special supply, "because," he said, "I have set my affection on the house of my God." Then the people followed his example and gave generously, as well. Then they "rejoiced because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the Lord." (v. 9)
Read 1 Chronicles 29:10-18:
Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: "Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. 11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 13 And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
14 "But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. 15 For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. 16 O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.
17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness . In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things , and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. 18 O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you.
The churches of Macedonia first "gave themselves to the Lord." (2 Corinthians 8:5) and this is in keeping with what Paul explained to them later in that letter: "I do not seek yours, but you. (2 Corinthians 12:14 - emphasis added, InkMan)
Lord's Supper: Jesus offered Himself for us from a willing heart.
5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.
6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come— In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.’” -- Hebrews 10:5-7
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. -- Philippians 2:5-11
I now have 347 boxes of Kleenex in my basement garage. You see, I made some calculations – an engineer would be proud! – and figured out how many boxes I would be likely to use in the rest of my wife's and my lives and how many I would then need to pass on for the remainder of my four children's lives. What would possess me to do such a thing?
The same reasons we use for storing up treasures on earth:
“I'm saving for my future. I'll need it someday.”
1 Timothy 6:17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches – [a lot can happen to a box of Kleenex in my garage: Flood, fire, tornado, mice… or to a 401K account or bank savings ]– but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
We need to trust God to continue providing for us in the future as He has up till now.
2 Cor. 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
“I'm saving for my kids' future.”
Ecclesiastes 2:18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it.
“I'm just ‘providing for my own.' After all, ‘if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. -- 1 Timothy 5:8.
Yes, but have you not also read 1 Timothy 6:18?
(The rich) are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
Your kids are not needy, and this collection is for preaching which is needed now and for meeting needs of people who are needy now! Besides, your kids are being raised in the Lord and will be well looked after.
Let's give cheerfully and generously. Let's do good with our abundance now, while we have opportunity.
Lord's Supper: Storing Up Treasures
Jesus' sacrifice on the cross gained Him a great victory:
Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. -- Philippians 2:5-11
We, too, are called upon to sacrifice our all in order to follow Jesus to glory:
(Jesus) said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,[a] and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?" -- Luke 9:23-25
Have you ever given something - perhaps something valuable - to someone only to then see them waste it?
The extravagantly wasteful son (a.k.a, the prodigal son), after blowing his entire inheritance, said to his father, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” Luke 15:18-19
When Jacob left Laban’s house, he had two wives, two female servants, eleven sons, and he was a rich man: oxen, donkeys, flocks, herds, camels, and male and female servants. To give you some idea of the greatness of his possessions, he picked
two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty milk camels with their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten foals….
as a gift for his brother (for reasons which we won’t go into here)! (Genesis 32:14-15) and divided his possessions into two groups and prayed,
“O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac… 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies.” Genesis 32:9-10
'He started his journey with the clothes on his back, and the Lord blessed him, both physically and spiritually.
So here we are. Unworthy of God’s mercies and blessings. Likely wasteful of at least some of the riches He has given us.
But Jacob “took what came to his hand as a present for Esau his brother”. I imagine him going through his flocks and herds and gathering everything he could. And that was just a part - only a fraction! - of his blessings!
What has God given you in His mercies? What has come to your hand as a present for Him?
John the Baptizer famously referred to Jesus as “One … who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.” Mark 1:7
The centurion who sought healing for his servant said to Jesus, “I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You.” Luke 7:6-7
Are we worthy to approach Jesus? …to invite Him under our roof? Are we worthy to untie His shoes? I’m not as committed or as bold as John was. I’m not as pious or full of faith as that centurion. So, no, I’m not worthy.
Am I worthy, then, to sit around this table? Even asking that question sounds foolish and ignorant and perhaps even prideful.
No, we’re not worthy of His sacrifice. He extended His grace while we were sinners, enemies, dead in sin. So no one is worthy to take this supper! He has shown us mercy and cleansed us and adopted us. And now we are commanded to take it! “Do this…” Not taking it is not an option; it’s no solution.
Although we are not worthy, we can behave in a worthy manner.
walk worthy of the calling (Ephesians 4:1), walk worthy of the Lord (Colossians 1:10), walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory (2 Thessalonians 2:12); let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:7)
And that needs to be our focus as we partake. It’s not about our worthiness, but rather the worthy manner in which we partake:
Whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 11:27
What constitutes a “worthy manner”? Examine yourself. Repent, as needed. Thank God for His mercy. Remember His great sacrifices. And take this with all reverence.
Then hold on to the hope “that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God” (2 Thessalonians 1:5). Jesus said there were “a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.” Revelation 3:4
That’s our great hope and what brings us together this day to break the bread.
We give money into the church treasury for 3 basic reasons:
To relieve the needs of the members (benevolence);
To spread the gospel (evangelism);
To build up the believers (edification).
We can't know the full situation of the needy, and we sure can't know their hearts. But that's not ours to judge!
We won't know everything that a preacher might ever think or say, but, after we are as careful as we feel we should be in recommending him, we give money to support him, anyway.
Sometimes we will give, and the money will not be spent exactly like we would've spent it. We can be thankful for wise elders who are using their best judgment as to how to carry out the Lord's work according to scriptural priorities.
We give anyway, because these are truly God's "good works," and because the apostles have given us instruction and a pattern. They taught based on the authority of the Holy Spirit and said to do it. Paul "gave orders" to the churches of Galatia and also told the Corinthians to do the same. The believers then contributed "as they prospered" and "as they purposed in [their] hearts."
So let's give cheerfully and continue to pray that the money will have maximum effectiveness in the kingdom and be a blessing to those who receive it.
Lord's Supper: God Gave, Anyway.
Before He became flesh and dwelt among us, the one we know as "Jesus" was "the Word," deity Himself. He, along with the Father, created Adam and Eve and watched as they used their free will to believe a lie and violate God's instructions.
He and the Holy Spirit were grieved the time the whole world turned evil in the days of Noah.
"The Rock" from which the Israelites drank "was Christ," but Israel grumbled and rebelled from day 1.
The Lord saw how even sending Israel into captivity only corrected one of their many sins (i.e., idolatry).
Jesus witnessed how Jerusalem was rejecting Him, and He lamented.
He understood that people would generally love pleasure rather than love the truth.
He foresaw that evil men and imposters would grow from bad to worse and that the love of many would grow cold
He knew that many would find the easy way to destruction and that relatively few would find the way to life
But He gave Himself, anyway.
God DOES know our hearts, and He gives us free will, anyway!
Jesus gave Himself, anyway, and gave us a chance to accept salvation on His terms and enter His kingdom.
Thank God, even today, in His longsuffering, He still gives us time to repent.
Let's examine ourselves as we take the Lord's Supper and take maximum advantage of His great sacrifice.
Visitors, thank you for worshipping with us. We do not expect you to give to this collection. Your presence is contribution enough. If you wish to put something in the plate, we'd be happy to get your visitor card so we can send you a note of appreciation.
Lord's Supper: Visitors, you may participate in this, if you feel comfortable doing so, or you may simply watch. Again, thank you for being here among us today.
God tests us weekly. He could take from us, but He asks us to do the giving. (2 Cor. 9:5)
When we give "according to our means," or "as we have prospered" (1 Cor. 16:2).
Study 2 Corinthians 9 to see all the good done by the giving of the Corinthians: Stirring up others, v. 2; allowing God to work in our lives for blessing, vv. 8-10; thanksgiving to God, vv. 11-12; giving glory to God, v. 13; supplying the needs of the saints, v. 12; bonds of love and mutual prayers, v. 14.
With great blessing comes great responsibility. (Luke 12:33-34, 48) Apply this also to the great spiritual blessings we have in Christ when commenting at the Lord's table.
Written by Ink Man
Quotes are from the English Standard Version or the New King James Version of the Bible.
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